October 28, 2008

La Fête du Fromage - Cendré de Champagne

Cendré de Champagne looks gritty. Which kind of turned me off at first.
Grittiness is not a characteristic that I look for when buying cheese.
But it does come from the Champagne-Ardenne region, home to Langres, a huge favorite of mine (and Champagne of course, another huge favorite of mine), so I figured that it would redeem itself.

It did.

Besides, cheese crusts can be cut away.


Cendré de Champagne is matured in damp caves for 6-8 weeks, covered in poplar and beech tree ash, hence the gritty texture of the crust. Traditionally the ash came from the fire in which pig's trotters had been cooked, adding a certain 'je ne sais quoi' to the flavor of the cheese.
These days the ash is pig trotter free and adds a nice, subtle smokiness to its rich, medium-strong, luscious flavor.
Although, the creamy richness is deceiving. The fat content in this unpasteurized cow's milk cheese is only 20-30%, as opposed to the more than 40% of most cheeses.

Just as the little bubbles of Champagne tickle your tongue when you drink it, Cendré de Champagne prickles and tickles your tongue when you eat it, taking its absolute deliciousness to a whole new level.

A glass of Côteau Champenois rouge is suggested with Cendré de Champagne.


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7 comments:

Julie's Raw Ambition said...

Hi Lou Lou,

Just found your blog and I love it, I love France, and practically everything French. I've spent time in Bordeaux and it was some of the greatest times in my life (but so was Paris and the south of France!). I was just in Marseille for a short time in June. Anyway, I can't wait to go back and your blog brings back sweet memories. I'll be living vicariously through you until I go back, hope you don't mind...:)

Julie

Ken Broadhurst said...

Loulou, is the crust of the cendré de Champagne actually gritty, or does it just look that way? Here in the Loire, Valençay, Selles-sur-Cher, and other goat cheeses are also "cendrés" but the crust is not gritty and doesn't have a strong taste. Ken

Loulou said...

julie
Thank you for a very nice comment and I hope you get back to la Belle France very soon.
It is a wonderful place! :)

ken
Yes, it is actually gritty, unlike the soft ash covered cheeses of the Loire. I cut off the rind, but you could try eating it if the texture didn't bother you.

Vivi said...

Ooh I love Langres, too! But I haven't tried Cendré yet - and it's from my own region! I like that it's lower in fat, too. You didn't say, is it pasteurized? If not I suppose I'll only have to wait a few weeks before trying it. :)

Loulou said...

vivi
I thought of you when I was researching Champagne. :)
It is unpasteurized so you better wait until French Fry graces us with his presence.
Although, this late in your pregnancy, do you still have to avoid raw milk cheese?

Vivi said...

Yep, all things delicious, unfortunately!!

Loulou said...

Vivi
Well, fortunately you don't have long to wait now!